We Care For Our Commons

K, 1, 2

We explore the difference volunteers make in our world. Youth recognize that even they can volunteer and make a difference in their community.

PrintOne Thirty-Forty Minute Session
  • describe how volunteers can make a difference in a community
  • copy of the book This Land Is Your Land (see Bibliography)
  • Guthrie, Woody and Arlo Guthrie. This Land Is Your Land. Rounder Kids C8050. Rounder Records Corp., 1997.
  • Guthrie, Woody and Kathy Jakobsen. This Land Is Your Land. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1998.


  1. Refer to the two pages in the book This Land Is Your Land that begin with "In the shadow…" These two pages portray a broken down community. Ask: What has happened? Why does it look like this? Accept reasonable answers. What could be done to improve this place?

  2. Turn to the two pages that begin with "Nobody living can ever stop me." Show the difference by flipping the pages back and forth between the two pictures. Compare and contrast what they see. Note that in the second picture children are helping. "You don't have to be big to make a big difference."

  3. Ask what different jobs the people are doing to improve their community. Let the learners decide if the people are getting paid to fix up their neighborhood. They should conclude that they are volunteers who are giving of their time and talent and that people can make a difference when they care about their "commons" and help each other.

  4. Each participant folds a large sheet of construction paper in half. On one side they draw a picture of a need they observed. In this picture, people aren't taking care of it. On the other side draw the same community need, but here people have volunteered their time and talent to make a better place for everyone. They share and discuss their drawings.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.6 Explain why acting philanthropically is good for the community, state, nation, or world.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark E.2 Discuss an issue affecting the common good in the classroom or school and demonstrate respect and courtesy for differing opinions.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.4 Give an example of how citizens act for the common good.